Mussels and ocean acidification

Ocean acidification causing negative effects on mussels.
Ocean acidification causing negative effects on mussels.
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The climate change has reached catastrophic proportions not only because of the sea level rise, or the melting of the ice caps or  even the rising temperatures but also CO2 emissions and global warming are now affecting the earth flora and fauna. For example, the wáter of the oceans is turning acidic, and shellfish is unable to produce enough calcium carbonate to form their shell. High mortality rate in oysters has been remarkable and noticeable lately. And now, the population of mussels are suffering too. Overall, the Galician bivalve which is startegically paramount to people’s livelihood in the Northwest of Spain.

Iria Giménez Calvo.
Iria Giménez Calvo.

A Galician native, Iria Giménez, from Sada, is part of the research team at the University of Oregon (USA) and has just published in the prestigious magazine Nature Climate Change. Run by the marine biologist George Waldbusser, their research shows how  low levels of calcium carbonate have given pace to mussels without a first shell. And their mortality rate in the Pacific ocean has increased dramatically.

“Bivalve larva rely on how fast mussels have to produce their first shell, a process that takes place within their first 24 hours and is critical to assure their feeding’ says Iria Giménez.

The reserach poitns out that it is not enough to measure the CO2 and PH, but also to measure the saturation levels of calcium carbonate in the water, which affect directly this larvae. All of this is, therefore, related to the climate change.

“This acidification rise is going on globally and speedly”, says Waldbusser

“The dangerous low levels of saturation will reach soon critical levels way before it was predicted perhaps in decades or centuries ahead of what was supposed to be. And way before the PH and CO2 levels even reach nepharious levels and affect other organisms too “, says Iria Giménez.

Waldbusser shared with us worrying data: “This acidification rise is going on globally and speedly, and it is the fastest for the past 50 million years. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution about 1800, we have contributed to the rising of the oceans acidity  at an alarming rate of 30% “. We must cut down the CO2 and fuel emissions dramatically worldwide. This is the only solution at hand. Changing the energy paradigm is imperative whatever it takes.



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